NYC Touts Checkpoint Plan to Ensure That Travelers Self-Isolate

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio unveils a plan for quarantine checkpoints in his daily briefing Wednesday, Aug. 5. (Image via Courthouse News)

MANHATTAN (CN) — On high alert against a second wave of the pandemic that devastated New York City in the spring, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a checkpoint plan Wednesday to ensure that travelers coming from virus hotspots self-quarantine.

Piggy-backing off of the plan issued in late June by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, de Blasio said NYC seeks to better enforce the 14-day quarantine rules that apply to travelers coming to New York from 34 states and Puerto Rico where infection rates are currently high.

Laying out how the checkpoints will work at his daily briefing, de Blasio said travelers from the hotspot areas will have to fill out a form upon entering the city and quarantine for two weeks. 

The crackdown will start Thursday at Penn Station when the mayor’s Public Engagement Unit will be asking all travelers coming from hotspot areas to fill out a form and make sure they are aware of the mandatory quarantine. 

Other checkpoints will be at major bridges, tunnels and airports. 

Failure to fill out the form can result in a fine of $2,000, and those who refuse to quarantine can be slapped with a $10,000 fine, the mayor warned

“The checkpoints are going to send a very powerful message that this quarantine is serious. Even if we can’t reach every single person I think it’ll get the message across,” de Blasio said at Wednesday. “We don’t want to penalize people. We want to educate them, make sure they’re following the rules.” 

NYC was hit hard with Covid-19 with over 230,000 confirmed cases, but the city has stayed below its 3% infection rate threshold since June 10. 

“New York City is holding the line against Covid-19, and New Yorkers have shown tremendous discipline,” de Blasio said in a statement. “We’re not going to let our hard work slip away and will continue to do everything we can to keep New Yorkers safe and healthy.” 

Dr. Ted Long, executive director of the Test & Trace Corps, said the city will be happy to provide lodging to any traveler that needs to quarantine if needed, so long as it keeps themselves and New Yorkers safe. 

“The progress we’re seeing across New York City in reducing transmission of Covid-19 is a collective effort by New Yorkers,” said Long in a statement. “We’re focused on continuing and building on those efforts by encouraging those who travel to states with a high Covid positivity rate to follow state law and quarantine at home and only leave if it’s essential.”

Law enforcement agencies, including the Department of Finance Sheriff’s office, will be on the frontlines of the checkpoints enforcing the new orders. 

“The entire team will strive to ensure the deployment balances the critical public health and welfare needs of the residents of the city with the legal protections entitled to all people,” Sheriff Joseph Fucito said in a statement. 

The mayor added that this is a new approach, but the city plans to use it as long as necessary and may expand it if it proves effective.

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